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Branden Grace goes back-to-back in Qatar


South Africa’s Branden Grace edged closer to the world’s top 10 after defending his title, the first player to do at the Qatar Masters.

A three-under 69 got the job done and it was a fifth straight top 10 this season.

Rafa Cabrera-Bello and Thorbjorn Olesen tied for second while overnight leader and two-time champion Paul Lawrie had a stinker of a day, slumping to a 78.

The Spaniard birdied his last three holes to make his move on a day when only five players broke 70.

Wales’ Bradley Dredge finished with four birdies to pull alongside English duo Andrew Johnston and Lee Slattery.

Grace had four birdies on the day, a fortunate break at the 1st got him going and he recovered from a dropped shot at the 5th with a second birdie at the next. A pitch close at the 10th pulled him further clear and a brilliant long iron into the heart of the green at the 72nd hole sealed the deal.

What Grace said: "It's a big thing to come to a week defending. You've got a lot more pressure and a lot more things going on that week. There's no better place to do it than Qatar. This was really one of my biggest wins to date last year, and I think this is just going to push it up even higher.

"It's all a big learning curve as your career goes on. I've learned a lot this week, learned patience, and I've learned what it takes now to defend a title. And not just that; to win a title again. It happened last year, but it feels long gone. So it's great to be in the winner's circle again.”


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